Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Iran

A Critique of Sam Harris

Over at¬†Current Affairs, Nathan Robinson and Eli Massey have written¬†the critique of Sam Harris. Robinson offers a magisterial, detailed overview of the rhetorical sleights of hand Harris uses to give relatively weak, unoriginal positions the imprimatur of “science” and “reason”. I want to add something to this discussion–something Robinson touches on but which I want to stay with for a minute. There is a core problem with the way Harris thinks which necessarily generates bad takes on Islam and the Muslim world.

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How Trump’s Executive Actions are Like Obama’s–And How They’re Not

President Trump is fed up with everyone and everything. For months now, congress has refused to implement his agenda. He’s mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore. Does that sound like someone you know? It should–late in his presidency, Barack Obama became exasperated with years of Republican obstruction. He turned to his lawyers. What could the administration do unilaterally that might be legal? They threw the kitchen sink at it, trying all sorts of things and leaving it to the courts to decide what would stick. Like Trump, Obama began taking more executive action late in the first year, though most of his biggest and boldest moves came in the second term:

The fact that Trump is frustrated and is looking for ways to weasel around institutional impediments shouldn’t surprise us. When the Supreme Court got in Franklin Roosevelt’s way, he tried to pack the court with sycophants:

What’s interesting is how transparently bad this executive action is.

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The Islamic State is Weak and Pathetic, and I Have the Numbers to Prove It

In my conversations with people around the internet since the Paris terrorist attack, it’s become increasingly clear to me that many people have a dramatically inflated understanding of the military strength and capabilities of the so-called Islamic State. So today I’d like to make it clear just how weak these people are, and how easy it would be for the surrounding Muslim states to destroy this organization even if the United States played only a minor logistical role.

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Ted Cruz vs. Ellen Page and Jimmy Carter

Ted Cruz has had a busy week. First the Texan senator and republican presidential candidate got in an argument about LGBT rights and religious freedom with actress Ellen Page. Then he launched an awkwardly timed attack on the presidency of Jimmy Carter, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. I’m not here to scold Cruz for being impolite. What I would like to do is talk about the substantive arguments Cruz makes and the way he makes them. So consider this post something of a doubleheader. Read the rest of this entry »

Yemen: The American Catastrophe No One is Talking About

Everyone knows about what a mess Iraq and Syria are. Libya is still a disaster, but even that country once had our attention. This is a story about Yemen. Remember Yemen? It’s the box-like country on the southwest corner of the Arabian peninsula:

Yemen is in the grip of a civil war that has now killed over 4,300 people. It’s an omnishambles. Let me tell you the horrible story of how we turned this country into the war-torn dystopia it now most assuredly is.

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